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Comet Pons-Brooks

Comet 12P/Pons-Brooks

A long-period comet with an extremely eccentric orbit that completes a circuit of the Sun in a period of just under seventy-one years. Its course carries it through the inner Solar System and then out to a distance of 33.5 AU from the Sun, which takes it beyond the orbit of Neptune. The comet is currently on the inner leg of its decades-long orbit, and reached its perihelion (its closest approach to the Sun) in late April 2024.

This comet was originally discovered independently by three observers in the summer of 1812, with the first of these being Jean-Louis Pons. On its next return, seventy-one years later in 1883, it was rediscovered by William Robert Brooks, hence its double name. During the interim, another comet was discovered in 1846 (Comet de Vico, 122P) with an orbit following that of Pons-Brooks very closely, and this has been hypothesised to represent a shard that broke away from the main comet.

Like many comets, Pons-Brooks is associated with a meteor shower, caused by ejecta from the comet intercepting the atmosphere of Earth. Specifically, Comet Pons-Brooks is the origin the light northern shower of late November and early December known as the Kappa Draconids.